Courses for Fall 2018

English 010.301    Introduction to Creative Writing: Shaping Ink    Deborah Burnham    TR 10:30-12:00   

English 010.302    Introduction to Creative Writing: Sports Narratives    Jamie-Lee Josselyn    M 2:00-5:00   

English 010.303    Introduction to Creative Writing: Extreme Noticing    Sam Apple    R 1:30-4:30   

English 010.304    Introduction to Creative Writing    Weike Wang    T 1:30-4:30   

English 010.601    Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry and Creative Nonfiction    Christy Davids    R 6:00-9:00   

English 110.401    Writing for Television    Scott Burkhardt    W 6:00-9:00   

English 111.301    Exactly Wrong: The Art of Writing Badly    Kenneth Goldsmith    R 1:30-4:30   

English 112.301    Fiction Writing Workshop    Max Apple    T 1:30-4:30   

English 113.301    Poetry Writing Workshop    Simone White    R 1:30-4:30   

English 115.301    Advanced Fiction Writing: The Novel    Weike Wang    W 2:00-5:00   

English 116.401    Screenwriting    Kathleen De Marco Van Cleve    M 2:00-5:00   

English 116.402    Screenwriting    Scott Burkhardt    W 2:00-5:00   

English 116.403    Screenwriting    Scott Burkhardt    R 4:30-7:30   

English 117.301    The Arts and Popular Culture    Anthony DeCurtis    R 1:30-4:30   

English 118.301    Advanced Poetry Workshop    Laynie Browne    T 1:30-4:30   

English 121.601    Where the Wild Things Play Quidditch: Writing for Children    Melissa Jensen    W 5:30-8:30   

English 128.301    Magazine Journalism    Avery Rome    M 2:00-5:00   

English 129.401    Across Forms: Art and Writing    Sharon Hayes, Rachel Zolf    W 2:00-5:00   

English 130.401    Advanced Screenwriting    Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve    W 2:00-5:00   

English 135.301 Creative Nonfiction Writing    Max Apple    R 1:30-4:30   

English 135.302 Narrative Nonfiction: The Art of Experience    Jay Kirk    T 1:30-4:30   

English 135.303    Creative Nonfiction: Writing Your Travels    Marion Kant    M 2:00-5:00   

English 135.401    Writing Center Theory and Practice    Kristen Gay    TR 10:30-12:00   

English 135.402    Essay, Blog, Tweet, Nonfiction now!    Lorene Cary    W 2:00-5:00    English 145.301    Advanced Nonfiction Writing    Buzz Bissinger    R 4:30-7:30; F 2:00-5:00   

English 145.601    Find Voice: Perspectives on Race, Class & Gender    Kitsi Watterson    T 5:30-8:30   

English 154.401    Advanced Playwriting    Jackie Goldfinger    M 2:00-5:00   

English 157.301    Writing about Food    Kristen Martin    T 1:30-4:30   

English 158.301    Journalistic Storytelling    Dick Polman    M 2:00-5:00   

English 162.301    Political Commentary Writing: The Congressional Midterms     Dick Polman    W 2:00-5:00   

English 435.640    Writing through Music     Jeff T. Johnson    M 6:00-8:40   

English 481.640    Learning from James Baldwin     Kitsi Watterson    R 5:30-8:10   


English 010.301
Introduction to Creative Writing: Shaping Ink
TR 10:30-12:00

In this introduction to creative writing, we’ll focus on two genres—creative nonfiction and poetry—that are more akin than it might seem. We’ll see how certain ways of generating and/or discovering material work for both genres. We’ll also see how structures that may seem unliterary or even anti-literary help us discover and organize memories and observations. In the nonfiction part of the course, you’ll do many short pieces, each with a particular structure, then organize some of them into a substantial nonlinear essay. When we move to poetry, you’ll use nontraditional and experimental techniques to uncover and embody what you want to say, but may not have been able to approach. You’ll read a selection of essays and poems, respond to them in writing and in conversation, then use aspects of them to develop your own work. Much of the class will be in roundtable workshop format, where you will respond to each other’s work and learn from those responses. The final project will be a portfolio of your best work.


English 010.302
Introduction to Creative Writing: Sports Narratives
M 2:00-5:00

We use sports to shape our lives as individuals, as families, and as communities. Whether a runner completing a marathon for charity, a high school hopeful’s quest for a scholarship, or a pro team clinching a title (or falling short), the highs and lows of an athletic journey, when combined with literary devices, insightful reflection, and occasionally just the right amount of indulgence, make for stories that teach and inspire. Even those of us who are true amateur athletes or exclusively spectators tap into the emotions that sports evoke. Additionally, sports provide a crucial platform for social, political, and cultural issues via circumstances both on and off the court, field, or track.

Over the course of the semester, students in our workshop will compose a personal essay from the perspective of an athlete or fan, a reported piece on an athlete, team, or sporting event, and a short story that centers around athletics. For their final project, students will complete a longer piece in one of these modes, along with a revision of an earlier draft. As students work on their own sports stories, we will read the work of great sports storytellers like Grantland Rice, Claire Smith, Roger Angell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bill Simmons, and Penn’s own Buzz Bissinger. We will also look to professional athletes whose words and gestures have made an impact, from fan favorites like Yogi Berra, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Kelce, to athlete activists like Kathrine Switzer, John Carlos, and Colin Kaepernick.


English 010.303
Introduction to Creative Writing: Extreme Noticing
Sam Apple
R 1:30-4:30

In the words of novelist Alice LaPlantte, “our first job as writers” is “to notice.” We all notice the world around as we make our way through each day, but “noticing” as a writer is different. Whether working on fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or any other genre, the writer has to pay attention to the very small, to zoom in on the specific detail or insight that can make even the most mundane moment feel entirely new. Noticing in this way is a skill that, like most skills, is developed with practice. In this class, we’ll practice paying attention to the small with weekly writing prompts and take occasional “noticing excursions” around campus. Along the way, we’ll review student writing as a group and read works by great contemporary noticers, including Karl Ove Knausgaard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ben Lerner, and Miranda July. Questions? Contact me at


English 010.304
Introduction to Creative Writing
T 1:30-4:30

In this course, students will read contemporary fiction and nonfiction writers such as Nunez, Beard, Hempel, Shepard, Karr, Moody, and Wallace, among others. Students will be introduced to the craft of writing through discussions of plot, character, dialogue and voice. Students will also be encouraged to explore different genres of writing from flash fiction to long-form memoir. The last portion of the semester will be dedicated to workshopping the works of peers. Each student will be expected to turn in biweekly short assignments (1-2 pages) as well as one final creative piece for workshop (10-15 pages).


English 010.601
Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry and Creative Nonfiction
R 6:00-9:00

This creative writing workshop collects, explores, and promotes the writing of poetry and creative nonfiction in a range of styles that center around the theme of place. We will begin with literal notions of place (geography, the city, neighborhoods) and move into metaphorical engagements with the theme, using our own writing as well as assigned readings to explore the idea of one’s place in the world, displacement and diaspora, the page itself, and myriad formal approaches that engage place and placelessness in writing. This class posits the act of writing as a means of establishing a locale for creativity, self, exploration, and more. Through a (seemingly) limited thematic structure, we will see just how numerous and porous literature makes something that is typically mitigated by limits, borders, and territories. Student will be encouraged to read, challenge, represent, and re-write turf, region, and terrain in ways that are multiple.


English 110.401
Writing for Television
W 6:00-9:00

This is a workshop-style course for those who have an interest in writing for television. The course will consist of two parts: First, students will develop premise lines, beat sheets and outlines for an episode of an existing television show. Second, students will develop their own idea for a television series which will culminate in the writing of the first 30 pages of an original television pilot. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course and their experience as a writer to This course is cross-listed with Cinema and Media Studies 117.


English 111.301
Exactly Wrong: The Art of Writing Badly
R 1:30-4:30

I wanted to do a “bad book,” just the way I’d done “bad movies” and “bad art,” because when you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something.—Andy Warhol

Over the past century, much of the innovation in language has occurred through error—think of the 4,391-word run-on sentence of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy which, by breaking every grammatical rule, forged an entirely new way of writing. Or the Beat Generation, whose works such as Howl and Naked Lunch rendered “shocking” sexual material in such common vernacular that it was the focus of landmark obscenity trials. Or hip hop, whose unadulterated stew of mashed-up languages—from everyday speech to dub to patois to jazz and beyond—which sounded so “wrong” at first, ultimately found its way into the mainstream in everything from advertising campaigns to hashtags, while challenging racial hierarchies of linguistic structures.

This course will embrace and exploit error as ways of inspiring new creative writing. In particular, we will be focusing on online and digital error as the basis for our poetry and prose. Our raw material will be glitches, emojis, computer languages, Twitter misspellings, SMS acronyms, and a panoply of other grammatical devices that have been long frowned upon as being “wrong.” We will examine what it means to write “exactly wrong,” as opposed to simply writing “incorrectly,” with an end goal of emerging with a poetics of precise error.


English 112.301
Fiction Writing Workshop
Max Apple
T 1:30-4:30

The class will be conducted as a seminar. Every student will write three stories during the semester; each story will be discussed by the group. The instructor will, from time to time, suggest works of fiction that he hopes will be illustrative and inspirational but there will be no required books. Attendance and participation are essential. Students who have completed and taken pleasure in a fiction writing course need not submit writing samples. Others please submit brief samples to: Permit from the instructor is required.


English 113.301
Poetry Writing Workshop
R 1:30-4:30

This poetry writing workshop examines various ways in which poets name and describe the world. How does poetry differ from other kinds of writing? Each week, workshop participants will read and discuss examples of poetic strategies old and new, formal and conceptual (including works of John Milton, Khadijah Queen, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and Caroline Bergvall), and will present their own writing, sometimes generated from assignments. We will also engage regularly with breaking poetry news.


English 115.301
Advanced Fiction Writing: The Novel
W 2:00-5:00

In this course, students will make progress on a novel project. The course is ideal for those who have already thought about and have likely started their projects. Each week there will be 30-50 pages of reading from contemporary novels in addition to the works of your peers. The readings are meant to cover different kinds of novels both structurally and stylistically. Students will read Nunez, Franzen, Kaysen, Kundera, Barnes, and L’Engle, among others. Each student will be expected to turn in a novel outline and two novel excerpt submissions. By the end of course, students should expect to have a polished outline as well as 50 pages of workshopped novel material. Permit from the instructor is required. Submit a 5-page writing sample and brief description of your interest in the class to


English 116.401
De Marco Van Cleve
M 2:00-5:00

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn’t know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one’s screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to the instructor to Permit from the instructor is required. This course is cross-listed with Cinema and Media Studies 116.


English 116.402
W 2:00-5:00

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn’t know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one’s screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to This course is cross-listed with Cinema and Media Studies 116.


English 116.403
R 4:30-7:30

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn't know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one's screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to the instructor to This course is cross-listed with Cinema and Media Studies 116.


English 117.301
The Arts and Popular Culture
R 1:30-4:30

This is a workshop-oriented course that will concentrate on all aspects of writing about artistic endeavor, including criticism, reviews, profiles, interviews and essays. For the purposes of this class, the arts will be interpreted broadly, and students will be able—and, in fact, encouraged—to write about both the fine arts and popular culture. Students will be doing a great deal of writing throughout the course, but the main focus will be a 3000-word piece about an artist or arts organization in Philadelphia (or another location approved by the instructor) that will involve extensive reporting, interviews and research. Potential subjects can range from a local band to a museum, from a theater group to a comedian. .


English 118.301
Advanced Poetry Workshop
T 1:30-4:30

How do a series or sequence of poems speak to each other? How might a poet create a structure for a long poem or body of work? What sustains a line, a page, or a project? Can your poems swim? Would you like to deepen your poetic practice? This is a workshop for writers who wish to investigate a wide variety of texts and engage in the creative process collaboratively through reading, writing and discussion. Together we will consider various ways to approach poetry, generate new material, experiment, revise, locate affinities and articulate influences. Weekly assignments will include: reading contemporary collections of poetry, writing, and participation in class discussions.


English 121.601
Where the Wild Things Play Quidditch: Writing for Children
W 5:30-8:30

From Grimm tales to dystopian Tributes, from hatted cats to Sorting Hats, children’s literature endures and evolves and entices. Long after our own childhoods have passed, we continue to read these stories—to younger and smaller people, and to ourselves. In this course, we will explore what draws us to and into books for children and teenagers, why we love them at six or sixteen. Or sixty. What makes these stories compelling? What makes them important? Often the answer is the same: children’s books put a spotlight on human experience, from the simple and idyllic to the profound and traumatic, offering reassurance. Knowledge. Hope. They can be mirrors that reflect us—or act as portals into different worlds. Where else, in what other literary form, do we reach both inward and outward with the same satisfaction and effect? Where else can we find magic and mystery, folklore and science, love and tragedy—education and entertainment and escape—all in the same familiar and comforting corner? Students will read across era and subgenre, from picture books to teen novels. They will develop their own projects: honing their voice, creating believable story, characters, and language. This course is based around lots of reading and writing, lively discussion, and livelier critique. If all little writers are eager and industrious, there will be a treat or two. If not, there might be wolves.


English 128.301
Magazine Journalism
M 2:00-5:00

A creative writing workshop devoted to writing for print and online magazines. We will delve into what it takes to report for outlets such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, or The New York Times Magazine; we will explore how time works in longform reporting and the specific demands magazines place on storytelling; we will design and practice pitching stories to editors; and we will produce our own 2,500-3,000-word magazine pieces. Open to all students. No prerequisites. Taught by Avery Rome, veteran editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer.


English 129.401
Across Forms: Art and Writing
Hayes, Zolf
W 2:00-5:00

What if a poem spoke from inside a photograph? What if a sculpture unfurled a political manifesto? What if a story wasn’t just like a dance, but was a dance—or a key component of a video, drawing, performance, or painting? Many artists employ writing in their practices, but may not look at the texts they create as writing. And many writers have practices that go beyond the page and deserve attention as art.

In this course, which is open to all students interested in art and writing, regardless of experience, students will develop multiple creative projects that integrate the forms, materials, and concerns of both art and writing. As a class we will employ critique and workshop, pedagogic methodologies from art and writing respectively, to support and interrogate cross-pollinations between writing and art practices. We will also study a field of artists and writers who are working with intersections between art and writing to create dynamic new ways of seeing, reading, and experiencing.

This course is cross-listed with Fine Arts 315/615. Permission to enroll is required; please submit a short description of your interest in the class to shahay@design.upenn,edu.


English 130.401
Advanced Screenwriting
De Marco Van Cleve
W 2:00-5:00

This is a workshop-style course for students who have completed a screenwriting class, or have a draft of a screenplay they wish to improve. Classes will consist of discussing students’ work, as well as discussing relevant themes of the movie business and examining classic films and why they work as well as they do. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class in addition to some potentially useful texts like What Makes Sammy Run? Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email. Please send a writing sample (in screenplay form), a brief description of your interest in the course and your goals for your screenplay, and any relevant background or experience. Applications should be sent to Permit from the instructor is required. This course is cross-listed with Cinema and Media Studies 130.


English 135.301
Creative Nonfiction Writing
Max Apple
R 1:30-4:30

Each student will write three essays and the class will offer criticism and appreciation of each. There will be some discussion of and instruction in the form, but the course will be based on the student writing. Attendance and participation required.


English 135.302
Narrative Nonfiction: The Art of Experience
T 1:30-4:30

Every work of nonfiction is a writer’s attempt to reconstruct experience. But experience can be an elusive thing to capture: a strange hybrid of the highly subjective and the more tangible zone of perceptible fact. How do we strike a balance in narrative nonfiction? For one, we employ the same devices that we already use to navigate our way through the world—that of our senses. The more vivid the details of sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound, the more immersed the reader will become in the author’s re-created world of words. But what of the more abstract, less concrete sixth sense of thought? After all, it is our mind that perceives and finds the subjective meaning in experience. In this narrative nonfiction writing workshop, we will look at craft, literary technique, the mechanics of building vivid and powerful scenes, discuss the role of story-logic, and the importance of hard fact-checking. Yet, the student is also urged to pay close attention to their own internal narrator, and to be mindful of the intuitive (and unconscious) powers at play in their writing. Each week we will review classics in the genre, do in-class writing exercises, go on periodic “experiential” assignments, and explore how the art of playing around with the raw material of everyday life (i.e., “reality”) can make for great and unexpected stories.


English 135.303
Creative Nonfiction: Writing Your Travels
M 2:00-5:00

In this course students will discuss what traveling means in an age when many people can get on a plane or drive on a whim to a place of their choice. Students will be asked to think about travel as a deliberate act or an act of improvisation, as never-ending process or a fixed journey. They will observe and record what they see when they travel. They will explore a popular form of writing and practice both—traveling and writing—as part of their own daily activities. The familiar will become strange and new as they move through Philadelphia, return home, walk through their university and explore places close to campus. The course will explore famous works by travelers who visited the USA, for instance Charles Dickens’s “On America and the Americans,” and consider recent works such as Michael O’Brien’s Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon (2011) and Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (2012).


English 135.401
Writing Center Theory and Practice
TR 10:30-12:00

CWIC-affiliated course; fulfillment of writing requirement and permission of instructor required. For more information, visit the Critical Writing Program.


English 135.402
Essay, Blog, Tweet, Nonfiction now!
W 2:00-5:00

English 135 is an improvisational workshop in creative nonfiction that connects you to current reporting opportunities; gives you structured choice in assignments; and teaches you how to write about hard subjects for and about young people. Big Questions about the social, emotional, relational and physical structures that affect young people require clear, engaging prose that avoids self-importance. Sometimes it’s even funny. Throughout this course, you’ll practice real-world skills without which even excellent writers may founder: initiative, scheduling, public reading preparation, and a meditative habit of observing—as if the same old world were born fresh every day. Which it is.

This course is designed as a group internship in association with, a blog and social movement devoted to promoting safe havens for children and youth. You will work on and off campus, conduct workshops, curate, write, research, and publish. You will promote stories and events, including a "Vote Virgins" projects to get 18-year-olds into the polls--and writing about it.

If we do the job right, we will shine a light on those among us who make young people safe in an era of fear. If we make what we write fun to read, look at, and listen to, then, we’ll be on our way to creating community—and stealth culture change. This class is cross-listed with Africana Studies 134 and is an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course.


English 145.301
Advanced Creative Nonfiction
R 4:30-7:30; F 2:00-5:00

This is a course for students who love the written word and desire to advance their ability to write and craft narrative nonfiction. It is a course in applying devices of fiction to nonfiction writing without compromise of facts. Writing will be emphasized, and so will avenues of storytelling through such components as creating a narrative spine, building a dramatic plot, character development, scene-setting and use of quotes. Students must be willing to do significant reportage, since narrative nonfiction cannot exist without it. There will be concentration on writing assignments and workshopping as well as outside readings. We will examine the work of authors such as Truman Capote, Katharine Boo, John McPhee, John Hersey, Lillian Ross, Richard Ben Cramer and JR Moehringer. We will also examine some of my own books, such as Friday Night Lights and A Prayer for the City, as well as magazine pieces from Vanity Fair, for candid discussions on what the author was precisely trying to do and whether it was achieved. Each writing assignment will be roughly a thousand words. A comprehensive narrative nonfiction piece of somewhere around 5,000 words will be required at the end of the semester. Opportunities also exist for exemplary student work about Philadelphia to be professionally published as part of a collaboration with the Kelly Writers House and the daily online publication The Philadelphia Citizen. Class attendance and participation are essential. Be prepared to come to every class.

The course will meet on Thursdays 4:30-7:30pm and Fridays 2-5pm on the following days: August 30 and 31, September 13 and 14, September. 27 and 28, October 11 and 12, October 25 and 26, November 8 and 9, November 29 and 30. I will be available for one-on-one discussions: November 19 and 20 and December 6 and 7. A nonfiction writing sample of any type (reported piece, narrative, essay or personal) is required for acceptance into the class. Please send your writing samples to Mingo Reynolds Permit from the instructor is required.


English 145.601
Finding Voice: Perspectives on Race, Class & Gender
T 5:30-8:30

In this writing workshop, we will experience the creative and scholarly exploration of myths about race, class, gender and sexuality embedded in the culture of “ordinary life,” as well as in systems of power and privilege. We’ll also examine how these myths result in inequalities that impact not only our opportunities, but also how we perceive ourselves and others. During the semester, I will ask students to write personal responses to the books, articles, stories, speakers, and films we’ll use during the semester. We’ll examine laws and legal systems looked upon through time as “just the way things are.” We will learn how other writers—including Frederick Douglass, Audre Lorde, Leslie Marmo Silko, Thandeka, Angela Davis, Jimmy Santiago Baco, and Amy Tan—have grappled with their own sense of self within the constructs of the social, cultural and educational paradigms of their lives. These writers share how they have coped and used language to help them discover who they are and how their experiences have shaped them. Through their stories and essays, we also will mine a deeper understanding of the art of writing.

A major goal I have for this course is for each student to find new ways to generate ideas and write with more comfort, fun and fluidity, from inside out. I want YOU to be able to focus on important issues through personal essays and stories that allow readers to connect with what they’re reading. I also want you to learn how to re-envision and revise your writing—knowing what to keep, what to build upon, and what to let go. In workshop sessions, we will examine how to show visual pictures through your words, how to use dialogue and descriptions that allow readers to inhabit the story being told. Through exercises, assignments, meditation and visualization, we will tap into memory and imagination as you discover how to write more vividly about key experiences in your own lives. Throughout the process, we will gain insight into ways to build narratives that reflect the complex experience of being a human being. No audits. This course is cross-listed with Urban Studies 273 and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies 145.


English 154.401
Advanced Playwriting
M 2:00-5:00

This course is intended to reinforce and build upon the areas covered in Level 1 Playwriting (THAR 114) so that students can refine the skills they’ve acquired and take them to the next level. Topics covered will include techniques for approaching the first draft, in-depth characterization, dramatic structure, conflict, shaping the action, language/dialogue (including subtext, rhythm, imagery, exposition etc.), how to analyse your own work as a playwright, dealing with feedback, the drafting process, techniques for rewriting, collaboration (with directors, actors, etc.) and the ‘business of the art’—working with theatres, agents, dramaturgs etc. Students will undertake to write their own one-act plays over the course. The classes will be a mixture of lecture, discussion, study of dramatic texts, writing exercises and in-class analysis of students’ work. This class is cross-listed with Theatre Arts 214.


English 157.301
Writing about Food
T 1:30-4:30

Food writing has become ubiquitous in recent years—we all consume it every day, whether consciously, by searching for a restaurant review on Yelp, or unconsciously, as we scroll through captions on Instagram photos. We have become obsessed with documenting our experience of food, capturing a static portrait of each ephemeral bite. But the best food writing does more than just record and evaluate a meal's looks, smells, and flavors—it illuminates beyond food's immediate appeal, providing insight into identity, culture, memory, place, politics and history.

In this creative writing workshop, we will read, discuss and write pieces that provide that insight. We’ll consider pieces by long-esteemed food writers like M.F.K. Fisher and A.J. Liebling, as well as contemporary works, like Helen Rosner’s ode to Olive Garden, Tejal Rao’s profile of a halal cart vendor, and Lauren Collins’ exploration of “America’s Most Political Food”—barbecue. Along the way, students will write a food-centric personal essay; a review of a local eatery; a profile of someone in the Philly food world; and, as a final project, a reported feature.


English 158.301
Journalistic Storytelling
M 2:00-5:00

This is a how-to course for talented aspiring writers—how to write well in the real world; how to hook the reader and sustain interest; how to develop the journalistic skills that enable a writer to gather, sift and report information. The instructor will share his own real-world experience, as a full-time working journalist for the past three decades. He will be joined on occasion by eminent journalists—including several star journalists from the New York Times—who will address the class and appear at mandatory forums to be held at the Kelly Writers House.

Even though students will read and critique some famous practitioners of nonfiction writing—among them, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr, Truman Capote and Richard Ben Cramer—along with contemporary newspaper storytellers that include the instructor (a national correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer)—the emphasis will be on the students’ own writing. The goal is to inspire students to tap their own potential, gain fresh insights, and feel comfortable enough to share their assigned work—both short and long pieces—with others in the class over the span of the semester. Students will write all kinds of nonfiction pieces, from personal memoirs to long-form features about anything from the Philadelphia scene to campus issues and events. The topics are less important than the craftsmanship; anything can be a great read if it’s written and reported well. Journalistic issues, both practical and ethical, will also be addressed—among them: how to decide who to interview, and how to handle an interviewee; how to use (and not use) the Internet; when to use (or not use) anonymous sources.


English 162.301
Political Commentary Writing: The Congressional Midterms
W 2:00-5:00

National politics is a 24/7 staple on the stump, on social media, on TV, in ads, and in the minds of millions of Americans who struggle to make sense of the incessant noise. Political commentary writers have a great challenge: seemingly by the hour, they are tasked with making smart judgments, supporting those judgments with empirical material, and communicating those judgments in clear language. They have to cut through the clutter, and engage the reader—smartly and entertainingly.

For those reasons, only true junkies of national politics—and those who aspire to write about it—are likely to enjoy this course, which focuses entirely on the difficult art of timely political commentary writing, and on the challenges that commentary writers face in an era of polarization that is stoked further by the blogosphere and the democratizing Twittersphere.

Students who are passionate about writing and politics will track the 2018 congressional midterm campaigns week by week, and write commentary posts on an online blog that has been created for this course. Students will track other breaking news stories as well. At this historic juncture of the Trump era, at a time when Americans are more awash in opinions than ever before, our aim is to master the craft of writing clear, responsible, incisive, substantive, and entertaining point-of-view journalism—and backing it up with factual research. All political views are welcome—as long as they are argued and supported effectively. The ultimate goal is to successfully develop an “earned voice” via effective writing, effective reporting, and, above all, effective thinking. In addition, guest journalists will visit to discuss their work.


English 435.640
Writing through Music
M 6:00-8:40

“Not all that’s heard is music … Remember the little / lovely notes”—Lorine Niedecker

This writing workshop will focus on the provocative interchanges between music and creative writing. We will consider music of all kinds, all genres (jazz, classical, hip-hop, ambient, folk, electronic, experimental, etc.), as a springboard for the imagination, as a counterpoint to forms of language, and as a tool for cultivating creative writing practices; we will also explore a range of poets and prose writers whose engagement with music reveals new ways of understanding the relationship between sound and the written word. Students will craft their own original pieces in this community-based classroom, where we will read and comment on each other’s work as well as on outside readings and recordings; students will also be encouraged to explore the live music scenes where they live, and to create their own music if so inclined. Through regular weekly writing assignments in a range of genres, including poetry, essay, and fiction, we will push the boundaries of our ideas and discover and expand our own listening and reading practices. Course requirements include thoughtful and committed class participation, regular writing assignments, and a final portfolio as well as statement of creative practice.


English 481.640
Learning from James Baldwin
R 5:30-8:10

James Baldwin, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, spoke to the issues of his times as well as to our own. This class will examine the intellectual legacy that Baldwin left to present-day writers such as Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Thulani Davis, Caryl Phillips and others. We will spend time reading and discussing Baldwin’s novels, short stories, plays and essays. In doing so, we will be considering the complex assumptions and negotiations that we make in our day-to-day lives around our identities and experiences built upon gender, sexual preference, the social-constructs called “race,” and more. James Baldwin’s life and work will be the touchstone that grounds our discussions. We will read Go Tell It on the Mountain, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and Giovanni’s Room and see films I Am Not Your Negro, The Price of the Ticket and The Murder of Emmett Till.

Students will research subjects of their own choosing about Baldwin’s life and art. For example, they may focus on the shaping influences of Pentecostalism; segregation; racism; homophobia; exile in Paris; the Civil Rights Movement; Black Power, Baldwin’s faith, or his return to America. Students will make oral research presentations. Requirements include: 100 pages of reading per week; writing responses to readings (2-3 pages), personal free writing journals, oral presentations of research projects, and final essays (12-15 pages). Class limit: 16 (no audits). This course is cross-listed with Africana Studies 481 and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies 481.